Pouring over maps and reading through itineraries and other travelers’ experiences, I began planning my journey through the fairy tale road with the enthusiasm of a mother planning her child’s first trip to Disney World. Only I wasn’t taking any kids with me, I was going to be experiencing Germany’s Fairy Tale Road with only husband to share in the enthusiasm.
Plotting our course included a visit to all the major attractions along the way, which consisted mostly of the locations my favorite childhood stories originated from. I must admit, the city of Bremen was not one of the towns that I was very enthusiastic about when it came to planning our route. Most itineraries and guide maps all showed the journey following a certain path, but our travels were forcing us to begin further north, at the road’s end in Bremen. We began at the finish line, and worked our way down through the western section of the country on a six day tour. Our starting point of Bremen turned out to be one of my favorite stops of the entire journey.
Arriving in Bremen by way of train, we left the station and lugged our bags across town in search of our hotel. (As a side note, one thing we learned on this particular trek through Europe was that it is always better to spend a little more money on a hotel that is in the city center.) One high point of walking two miles to the hotel was that we were able to pass directly through the hustle and bustle of the main town area, making notes about what we would be coming back to investigate in further detail later that evening. The town reminded me of Paris in so many ways. Old stone buildings were decorated in gilt and gold at every turn. Statues adorned not only the cobblestone streets, but also guarded the ancient walls that lined the sidewalks as we passed by. Tiny, twisting lanes opened up from every road, leading to secret shops and cozy restaurants tucked into corners.
The Turmhotel Weserblick was our lodging for the evening, and once we arrived I remembered why I had chosen this off the beaten path location. The hotel room was twice the size of our living room at home, and featured all the luxuries that a Victorian house should include – which is exactly what this hotel actually was. We were happy with the room, if not the distance back to town, but we gathered our camera and credit card and marched back out to take in the sights, and see what the area could offer us for dinner, as well.
Walking into St. Peter’s Cathedral, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the Griffins that guarded the entrance. The inside was hushed, and the crypt in the basement even more so. The history engulfed us both as we silently made our way around the stone blocks that had held up the building for centuries.
Just passed the Cathedral was the Bremen Town Musicians, but the statue was so crowded with tour groups that we never did get a chance for a close up encounter. Admittedly, I was not very familiar with the story before starting my research on the Fairy Tale Road. I think I’m in the minority here, however. Either way, we didn’t stay long and headed to the Rathaus, or Town Hall.
I realized halfway into our trip that every town has a Rathaus, but coming into Bremen it was somewhat of a novelty for me. Among all that we encountered though, this site in particular was one of the more impressive. It included a fine dining restaurant in the basement, or Ratskeller, and we headed down the stairs to catch a glimpse of of the very long-standing wine cellar they keep. Wanting something a bit more casual for dinner, we headed towards the Schnoor area, which is the oldest part of Bremen.
When we began exploring side roads, meandering in the general direction of the Schnoor, I had already fallen in love. The cobblestone streets held little gems like candy shops and chocolateries. After stopping for a drink at an unassuming little eatery, we soon discovered it was a well known sight for serious tourists. There, tucked in the back alley of a side street, was a clock that not only had a full choir of bells that rang in the new hour, but also had an accompanying song that held a surprise of its own. The brick wall to the left corner of the clock began to turn, and soon we were watching as different historical scenes came into view.
After our drink and unexpected entertainment, we gave in to our empty stomachs and went in search of food. One lane led into another, and soon we found ourselves in the heart of the Schnoor. While there were not as many bistros and cafes as I had expected, I still found myself having a hard time picking between the tiny restaurants that all had tantalizing menus posted at their entrance. We finally settled ourselves at a candlelit table on the patio of the Katzen Cafe. Our waiter was attentive, and also had a firm grasp on the English language and our very limited understanding of the menu. He walked us through the options, and when our dishes arrived at the table we devoured it all. We had not only realized just how hungry we were, but the food was so fresh and delicious that we sampled each others until there was nothing left.
It was the perfect way to end the beginning of our time on the Fairy Tale Road. We didn’t know what each town would bring, but we knew we were off to a delicious start.